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Sunday, June 27

Jane Austen Throwdown

Some of Jane Austen's heroines had terrible experiences in London. Think of poor Marianne, who came to the realization that Willoughby had been willfully ignoring her letters and avoiding her visit. We will consider the London experiences of two ladies who are more restrained than Marianne: Jane Bennet and Elinor Dashwood. Both ladies kept their anguish to themselves. In your estimation whose London experience is worse? Jane's or Elinor's?

Jane Bennet understood that Mr. Bingley had removed himself from Netherfield Park with no immediate plans for a return visit. Her heart was broken already when she visited her aunt and uncle Gardiner on Gracechurch Street in Cheapside, but little did she know how thoroughly she would be rebuffed by Caroline Bingley, who she still regarded as a true friend. For someone as gentle as Jane, unable to think ill of others, the insult that Caroline finally gave her (visiting her beyond the prescribed time period that manners dictated, failure to give a reciprocal invitation, and staying for such a short length of time as to be almost insulting) opened Jane's eyes to the situation. Mr. Bingley was meant for Georgiana Darcy, and Jane had no role as either friend to the Bingley sisters or as Mr. Bingley's romantic interest. Only Elizabeth understood how well Jane was able to hide her broken heart from her family.

Imagine how you would feel if Lucy Steele told you about her secret engagement to the man you are interested in and extracts a promise from you to remain silent about the relationship. Imagine Elinor's having to witness Edward and Lucy in the drawing room in her presence and then watch them leave together (reluctantly on his side). Not only does Edward choose to remain with Lucy when his mother finds out about their clandestine relationship, but Colonel Brandon asks Elinor to tell Edward about the living he is willing to give him. The scene is poignant and sad, and we feel for Elinor, who bears these events with fortitude as she supports Marianne in her grief.


Eliza Martin said...

My heart goes out to Elinor. If you've ever had to watch someone you love hang out with his or her significant other, it just rips ever little part of your heart apart.

Cranberry Morning said...

I just loved Elinor Dashwood's character in S&S - and the portrayal of her by Hattie Morahan in the movie.

Anonymous said...

No doubt they both suffered the heartbreak of a love lost to them. But Jane at least had Lizzy who understood; and the Gardiners. (Little as they appear in the book, they do appear to be good influences, and they are also aware of Jane's situation.) Elinor had no one, had to keep it all bottled up within, even as she watched her sister let it all out... and still be in near-daily contact with Lucy and Edward. And she couldn't even find some release in the stage of anger at Edward, because she knew he was acting with honour.

Hybrid said...

This is a tough one. However I believe dear Elinor's experience was worse. :(

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Nonna Beach said...

On my first reading ( and subsequent readings ) of S & S, sorrow for all the heartbreak and disappointment Elinor suffered in silence is a lot to bear for any reader. I admire her fortitude and how she dealt with it ...and what joy flows off the pages when she is rewarded with her heart's desire after all !